Exactly one year ago, I started my first day of work as an English teaching assistant in Douai, France. If things would’ve worked out as I was hoping for, I would be doing the same thing today! Unfortunately, that’s not the case – but when I look back at this year and everything that has happened, I am like whoa.
I spent 8 months in France, teaching 12 hours a week to French high school students. I definitely had my ups (like my great class of senior students who always greeted me with a smile) and downs (like that one time that I ended up yelling in French at my sophomores who didn’t want to listen to a word I was saying), but I definitely learned a lot. If I ever have the opportunity to do the assistantship again, I would take it.
I lived in a small city but made great friends from all over, including my roommates from Spain, Italy, and Germany and my other assistant friends living nearby.
In the past few weekends, I have experienced two very different sides to northern France: the crazy Carnaval de Dunkerque and the calm serenity of the coast at Cap Gris Nez.
When people told me about Carnaval, the main impression that I got was that there was a lot of drinking and disguises going on. Spoiler alert: that proved to be true. Me, my three roommates, and some friends got all disguised up (including but not limited to feather wigs, hula skirts, and giant sunglasses) and hopped on the party train to Dunkerque on Sunday, February 19th. Literally – it was a party train. Nearly every other person inside was already disguised or in the process of becoming disguised. There were men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and others with costumes that left little to the imagination. Upon arrival, the scene did not change. It was like a giant parade from the train station towards the main square; the fact that none of my group had any idea where we were going wasn’t important – we just followed the crowd of crazies.